By Jonathan Kersten,

an instructional designer with the Global CSMB Sales Training and Development team

I am the tech guru to my technologically-challenged family members. They ask me questions about computers and other electronic devices all the time. For example, my brother called me the other day to ask which laptop he should buy. Apparently he had been online for hours looking at systems and specs but still didn’t really have a clue.  

“Sure, no problem,” I say.

“I’m looking at the XPS 15, Inspiron 15R and the Alienware M14x,” he says.

Inspiron R series

The Inspiron 15R offers switchable lids, a great way for your laptop to match your mood—whatever it may be

Silence on my end. Hmm. How do I compare apples and oranges in a way that makes sense? They are fruits, they are, um, well let’s see…

“What are you going to use the laptop to do?” I ask.

His response is the none-too-helpful, “a bit of everything.”

If you have ever been in a situation like this, maybe this blog will be of some assistance.

If you are looking for a system that can do a little bit of everything while looking out for your bottom line, I would go with the Inspiron 15R. It has the latest second-generation Intel Core i-series processors, optional AMD graphics, an HD webcam and USB 3.0 ports; it really delivers on performance. You can easily edit photos for your Facebook page, stream HD content and even do some basic gaming. With a standard 10-key number pad, you really get the feel of a desktop keyboard in an easy-to-carry laptop. The coolest feature of the Inspiron 15R is the switchable lids. Instead of being stuck with a laptop with a single color or design, you can change the look of your laptop with the simple press of a button. For an under $700 laptop, the 15R makes total sense. Just don’t expect it blow you away when it comes to high-end multimedia usage.


XPS 15The XPS 15 (L502x) also features a 15-inch display but offers more in the power and performance departments when compared to the Inspiron 15R. It offers a higher-end, more robust processor and dedicated graphics options, which are ideal for higher-end multimedia use, like watching Blu-ray movies, HD video and midrange gaming. The audio offerings on the XPS 15 are sweet too. The JBL speakers and subwoofer along with WavesMAXX audio produce a thick, bassy sound that you would expect to come from a high-end set of external speakers, not default offerings on a laptop. They sound AWESOME when watching a movie! The design of the XPS 15 is what I would call industrial-chic. It doesn’t feature the switchable lids of the Inspiron 15R. Instead it is a classy brushed aluminum lid that feels sturdy and solidly-built. I really like this laptop because it offers power and performance without a hefty price tag. 


And last, but definitely not least, the Alienware M14x is a powerful machine in a small, portable package. While this laptop is capable handling almost anything you throw at it, let’s be honest—it is meant to be a portable gaming machine. Alienware M14xThe M14x has a slightly smaller screen than the Inspiron 15R and XPS 15 at 14-inches, but it is hi-def and games look amazing on it, despite the size. The M14x offers the latest and greatest Intel Core i processors (up to quad core) and NVIDIA 500 series graphics—perfect for any game on the market today and future-proofed for upcoming gaming titles. The Klipsch speakers offer a full sound for such a small, portable laptop. Like all Alienware systems, AlienFX is standard; you can customize the color of the backlit keyboard and the other lighting zones on the laptop. HDMI, VGA and Mini DisplayPort are all standard features so connecting to an external monitor or HDTV is cinch. The Alienware M14x is going to be the most expensive option of the three, but the features and capabilities of this laptop make it well-worth the price.

I like all three of these laptops. You really can’t go wrong with any of them—but the Alienware and XPS systems are going to offer a few more performance features than the Inspiron. If you are wondering which system my brother got, I guess you will have to wait until next time to find out.